Diaspora. Erkundungen eines Lebensmodells
Kuratorin: Isolde Charim
Charim | Snyder
One of the most profound changes in our societies is their pluralization. This is a relatively recent evolution. And it is an irreversible fact: there is no way back to a non-pluralistic, homogeneous society. This is a straightforward statement. But it is not so easy to analyse the question of what this actually means. How do we define a pluralistic society? What exactly is becoming more plural? And what consequences can we expect? In other words: What does it mean to live in a pluralistic society?
According to common understanding, the answer lies in a co-existence of diverse cultures and civilizations. This would imply, however, that pluralization results in an accumulation of cultural, religious and ethnic differences, in addition to something arising that will create something new. Accordingly, Yugoslavs, Turks or of late Muslims have augmented the Austrian population. Therefore, we speak about migration, integration, or, in the worst case, the existence of parallel societies and thus lose sight of the fundamental changes which are affecting us all. Pluralism is not merely an external relationship. It does not mean a form of co-existence that would not impact the individual segments of society. Pluralism much rather denotes a process in which the totality, the differences between all those involved, the indigenous population and immigrants alike, are affected.
This is why we opted for the term “diaspora”: it was our intention to address a very specific problem area that terms such as parallel society, multi-culturalism, exile, migration or integration do not cover. Of course, all these topics have been or are being treated in one form or another by this series. But all of these concepts represent so-called master categories, i.e. categories whose direct obvious clarity and precision as to their unequivocal meaning mask the shifts and transformations that we want to explore.
“Parallel society” (apart from the term’s political connotation) just like the term “exile” focus on the concept of segregation and disregard the fact that irrespective of the degree to which a society may seal itself off, its members are always bound to interact with the realities of life surrounding it. The terms “migration” and “integration” denote movements, but remain totally one-sided. The concept of “multi-culturalism”, while implying our desire for what is genuine and original, fails to convey to non-natives their authentic and unique identity. In order to shed these unambiguities and biases we therefore needed a term that eludes the aim of definition: we needed an equivocal term. “Diaspora” is the conception that reconciles this paradox. This was our starting point.
The advantage of this lecture series is that every individual evening is an independent, self-contained entity which at the same time blends with the preceding evenings. Accordingly, every specific discussion forms part of a context of debate which provides the series with its continuity.